9/07/2015 Welcome home



How Far? 9,854 Miles.
How Much Time? 4/09/2015 to 9/07/2015. I first cycled to the East Coast to see my sister and then headed west. I spent about 2 weeks stopped doing repairs and a week vacationing with Leslie in Colorado. So about 4 months and a week of actual riding.

This does set a new world record for the longest journey ever taken on an ebike. The longest previous was 4000 miles taken by my new friend Troy.

I did return home with the information I set out to get. I have learned through experience how to build batteries that are rugged and reliable and made for heavy duty electric bike use. I also know what does and doesn’t work on electric touring bicycles.

There is a Welcome Home party planned at my house. Leslie and Abby have been preparing treats. My home is pretty rough after 5 months of vacancy.

SAM 2095

The vest, the final leg not yet checked off.

SAM 2100

Showing how it is done.

SAM 2101

My Certificate of Creaturedom. This is awarded to those who can become human animals, creatures, and is very difficult to achieve. My cycling through Europe, Morocco, and even Tanzania did not allow me to receive a full paw. But this trip did!

SAM 2116

9/06/2015 Ocala Florida to Tampa Florida


I am scurrying down the highways looking forward to staying at the comforts of another Air BnB. I have received confirmation in my email and my credit card has been charged. I ride past a number of budget hotel options just outside Tampa City.

Tampa City.

SAM 2089

The right bolt on my rear wheel has come loose, making the wheel shift disconcertingly when I accelerate. Soon after this picture it starts to pour. I decide to try to ride to the Air BNB and do the repair there. I tuck the phone into a plastic bag and continue.

I guestimate I am about half a mile from my destination when my phone quits. It is fully discharged. Nothing to do but sit in a park and wait 15 minutes in the rain. “Well”, I tell myself, “It looks like your last day is going to be another adventure, doggonit.”

When my phone is charged a bit I ride to the Air BnB. I am a sight, soaking wet, arriving on bike. The hostess tells me that they have cancelled my reservation. I am indignant. “What do you mean you have cancelled it? I just rode 115 miles to get here and it’s pouring rain….” She says I can sit on the front porch until I sort things out.

Mad, I hop on my bike and ride away- less dramatically then I would like though, ’cause of the rear wheel. I find a bit of shelter to repair my bike.

SAM 2090

While I am repairing my bike, I get a new email. “Your AirBnB reservation has been cancelled.” Grrrr. She just now cancelled it! I look for a hotel option using my phone, but being in downtown Tampa all I get very high prices. But Ybor City is just 7 miles away, and has some more affordable hotels. So I put the phone back in the plastic bag and try to navigate out of Tampa City.

Tampa City has a trolley. Unlike rail tracks, trolley tracks are recessed in grooves. In the rain and with my tired frustration I get my rear wheel caught in a track groove and try to turn out of it. I know immediately something is terribly wrong. My rear wheel is now bent into what is called a “potato chip” shape.

I find a sheltered spot under an abandoned building to take a look. I can barely push it there even with the brake disconnected.

SAM 2091

Whoa, that is bad. I get out my spoke wrench and soon realize it is hopeless. Spokes are broken, the rim is ruined. It is 6:30PM. I call two bike shops close, both are closed. Tomorrow is Labor Day. I would have to wait until Tuesday to get a new wheel, and I am just 80 miles from home.

I call two wise friends, Mike and Thom, and we agree the trip is over. I call Leslie, and she cheerfully agrees to come pick me up and she’ll leave right away. What a great girlfriend- to patiently wait all these months and still be kind to me.

I’m very very tired and very very glad to have done it and to arrive home.

SAM 2094

9/05/2015 Fargo Georgia to Ocala Florida


I ride 131 miles today. The “Loop” is officially complete, as I have crossed my path through Florida. Now all I have to do is ride about 175 miles to Venice. I’m on track to be there Monday afternoon.

Meet me at the Circus Bridge and finish the ride with me if you can. We will ride a mile to my house on Queen Road and there will be food. I should be there around 3:00 PM, it’s only 80 some miles south of Tampa.

Call Leslie at 941-488-1212 if you’d like her to call you when I get close.

I’ve ridden over 130 miles for the last two days. I have given the motor more boost and so picked up the speed to around 18mph. It is amazing to ride so far so easily. I am still discovering the capabilities of Sherpa and rethinking what ebike touring can be.

SAM 2088

9/04/2015 Hinesville to Fargo Georgia


137 Miles today, about 295 miles to go. Total Miles is 9,615.

Today doesn’t start out well. As I ride away from my hotel I hear the back brake rubbing. A mile down the road I decide it is a problem and that I’d better take a look. A little closer look shows the back wheel has a large wobble in it. Broken spokes are no problem, I have plenty of spares. But none of the spokes are broken. I start to true the wheel then notice this:

SAM 2081

Four of the spokes look as if they had been tugged hard enough to break the metal in the rim. It can only be the torque of the motor. The aluminum rim is just too soft to handle it. I cannot ride it, catastrophic failure is imminent.

What to do? A google search shows there are no bike shops in Hinesville. Their are no bike shops in any of the towns my ride takes me through today. The closest bike shop is back in Savannah, about 35 miles in the wrong direction.

I consult with Leslie, her solution is to rent a car and drive to Savannah and PU the part. Not a bad idea. I decide to go to Wal Mart instead with the intent of buying a new bicycle just for the rear wheel. Along the way I’ll look for a pawn shop.

When I arrive at Wal Mart I explain my situation to some employees outside and they say- “Oh, talk to Doug, he works on all the Wal Mart bikes.” Doug is paged to the front of the store. I explain my situation and show him the bike. Maybe he has a spare wheel at home?

But Doug is in charge of the returned bikes, and says they have a lot of them. He explains that when a bike is returned, they can’t give it away, and the manufacturer doesn’t want it back. He is instructed to chop the bikes up and throw them away. He presents my case to Alan, the manager, and Alan generously allows Doug to get me a wheel. Then he has my picture taken with him and some staff, just in case I really might be famous someday.

Doug shows up with a nice new steel wheel and we get to work.

SAM 2082

The job is done. It is another one of those cases of going from despair to elation in an hour. The touring cyclist emotional roller coaster.

Thanks so much Doug and Wal Mart!

SAM 2086

All-righty then, I’ve got a 115 mile ride and it is already after 10:00. I have 40 miles to go by 3:00 when I stop for lunch and to feed Sherpa. I decide to pick up speed and bump up the boost. But Blondie gets ditsie on me. She takes me off the highway for 6 miles, then turns me onto a dirt road, seeking a short cut. Cursing I decide to take it rather than backtrack. The road gets worse, becomes soft sand filled with deep puddles. My motor and batteries go underwater several times. But Sherpa keeps on trucking. I keep hoping each new turn will put me back on the pavement, but that is not happening. Finally I switch out of bicycle mode and to car mode. Blondie finds a highway just three miles away and I head towards it. When I do reach it, after over an hour, I now have 41 miles to go!

OK, time to let her fly. With maximum boost we roll comfortably along at about 19mph. It is dusk, and the lights get used to alert overtaking cars. Rain does not slow us down. We do make Fargo after dark. My hotel room is ready. Dinner is across the street.

Phew, it’s been a long day. Into Florida tomorrow morning, Ocala tomorrow night!

9/03/2015 Walterboro SC to Hinesville Georgia.


I ride 115 miles today before 4:00 and into Georgia. I’m now 381 miles from home.

The countryside has leveled out. The air is hot and muggy, it sticks to me as I try to pass through it. Swarming flies make me button my shirt and turn up my collar.

Magnificent old oaks canopy the road with moss covered branches.

SAM 2073

Around me is the subtle beauty of swamp.

SAM 2076

Log and chip trucks roar past me all day. Their spindly logs hang out 20 feet behind the trailers like bristly tails. I see where they are going.

SAM 2079

Chocolate soup rivers rest awaiting caffeine.

SAM 2078

9/02/2015 Camden to Walterboro South Carolina


Rode 117 miles, 500 to go! Should be home Monday afternoon.

I feel like I am still discovering the potentials in ebike touring. Now that the terrain has leveled Sherpa and I can cover more ground more easily. I am letting Sherpa do all the work, I just keep a light pressure on the pedals. It is so cool to rack off a couple 100 plus mile days and not to be wiped out. The heat and humidity are intense, and riding Sherpa is the coolest place to be short of inside AC.

I am shooting for over 100 miles a day all the way back home. It was too humid and hot to camp last night so I found one of those legendary 35 dollar a night hotels that I had been told were out there somewhere.

Blondie led me to this road which was clearly marked DEAD END. ROAD CLOSED.
Knowing she is a genius, I took it anyway. It led to this abandoned and barricaded bridge:

SAM 2069

Of course I rode it, watching out for the big holes or breaks that might be there. Nope, it was perfectly safe.

SAM 2067

I guess that was the big adventure of the day! Somedays are like that. But flying along on Sherpa watching the scenery flow past was great.

8/30, 9/1, Charlotte to Concord to Camden South Carolina


611 miles to go on the morning of 9/2

Another cryptic email from Marsy:

Friends and Ecyclists:  Marsy is hibernating in a banana grove at the bottom of a pleasant crater. Geoscans from an Omni shuttle picked up that image this morning. The Source be with her,     Vee on Venus Rd. 


I think Marsy is pregnant- and hibernating!

Meanwhile, back on earth, in Concord I rent an Air BnB. My ex, Cynthia, drives 2.5 hours to spend a day. Her’s is the first familiar face and presence I have been with for a long time, and I enjoy my day very much. I’m so thankful that we remain close after 27 years of marriage and 8 years divorced.


SAM 2055

Today another state Yay.

SAM 2057

People seemed to like my post about Wal Mart BnB’s, and asked for some pictures. I am staying at a Wal Mart BnB in Camden tonight, so happy to oblige.

Here’s the steps in summary. Pulling up to WalMart and checking out the outlets. Do you see Sherpa?

SAM 2058

Yes, ejuice is flowing.

SAM 2059

Hey, there might be a camping spot somewhere in this woods. Let’s explore by foot.

SAM 2061

Sure nough. I’m far enough back to be well screened by trees.

SAM 2062

Let’s take a shower.

SAM 2063

The camp has been made, Sherpa has been unpacked, let’s take him back to Wal Mart and charge him. He feels safer chained to a cart.

SAM 2065

Today I felt like a good meal and walkto a Chili’s and have two dinners! When I have finished, I check on Sherpa, and he has finished too. So I take him back to camp.

8/28, 8/29, Alta Vista to Greensboro to Concord, NC.


9000 Miles. Into North Carolina.

In Greensboro I stay at an Air BnB, the home of Ed and Sarah. Ed is a minister on the nearby college campus. I am their first guest, and I hope after me they still want to host! Sarah offers me some home cooked Indian Curry, which they felt was too spicy to eat, but I enjoyed it.

I explain that I’m an omnivore, which means that if half of it is edible, it’s all edible. Ahh, the advantages of a roaring furnace for a stomach. We talk about respect for and appreciation of the many beliefs that people hold.

I cycle to Concord NC, and stay at another Air BNB. Cynthia, my ex, who lives in NC, is going to drive a couple hours to visit me. I am looking forward to spending the day with my wife of 27 years. That’ll be the first familiar face I’ve seen in months.

Then it’s a push to get home. I can feel the tropical heat, I’m only 700 miles away.

Into North Carolina.

SAM 2051

The roaring chippy dust corn harvest.

SAM 2043

Fun to ride behind and watch horse legs.

SAM 2047

8/27, 8/28 2015 Haymarket VA to AltaVista VA


Now that my focus is on getting home I am knocking off more miles each day, about 85. I finish around 4:30 PM. I could not do this without an ebike, it is 20 miles or more farther than I could go on a push bike, especially in the rollie pollie hills.

Last night I stayed at another airbnb, tonight I am camped behind another Wal Mart.

How to camp at Wal Mart: Choose your destination. At McDonalds go online and use google maps to get a satelite image of the areas surrounding the Wal Mart. Because most Wal Marts are newer and big, they tend to be on the outlying areas of town where there is a bit of woodland close. If there are no woods choose another destination.

Apon arrival at the Wal Mart, circle it looking for electrical outlets. Test the ones that you find. Run inside and get a cool drink. Then ride your ebike all around the Wal Mart area looking for the best spots to stealth camp. Don’t take the first one, just note your options and keep looking. Narrow it down, then explore the possibilities on foot. Try to meet these criteria: Pleasant, invisible to the curious, not on Wal Mart property, shortish walk to Wal Mart. Come as close as you can.

Stash your gear in your spot, making sure you can find it again. Grab the ebike, your water bladder, a razor, a toothbrush and a lock and ride back to Wal Mart. PLug in your ebike and lock it to two grocery carts. Grab your water bladder and go.

It’s time to eat and the options are many at a Wal Mart superstore. Usually there is a fast food operaration inside. Tonight dinner was a Subway, often it is a sandwich from the deli section and some milk.

After dinner grab your water bladder and head for the bathroom. Fill it up with warm water from the tap. Shave and brush. Sling the bladder over your shoulder and hike back to camp.

When you get to camp, hang the water bladder from a tree and place a tarp underneath to keep your feet clean. Take a shower then change into your sleeping clothes. Set up your tent, inflate the airmatress etc, be sure your gear is covered in case of rain.

Next it’s to write the blog and develop pictures. Then it’s a little reading from the Kindle before sleep.

In the morning, before it is light, go check on your Sherpa. The battery will be a couple of amps down and the charger will have stopped. Now that the battery has rested, restart the charger and trundle back to camp and get another hour of rest while your Sherpa tops off on ejuice.

Pack up camp, go get Sherpa, load Sherpa. Leave at first light for the closest McDonalds in the general direction you are going. Have breakfast and use wifi to chose the days destination, a city 90 or so miles away with an Air BnB, a cheap hotel, or a Wal Mart. Post to your blog, answer emails, take care of business. Then Ride.

Repeat until home.

Virginia countryside.

SAM 2040

SAM 2041

8/26/2015 Gettysburg PA through Maryland to Haymarket Virginia.


Riding through Gettysburg on Highway 15 takes you straight through the battlefield where the battle of Gettysburg was fought and so it is lined with monuments to the men who died. From my present day perspective, it is hard to believe that there would be men willing to fight to the death to keep slavery.

Just one monument picture. It’s enough. You get the idea.

SAM 2036

Highway 15 can be a fast ride, or it can narrow down to a 2 lane with no shoulder. Here is the Whoopeee part of today’s ride.

SAM 2038

In Haymarket I find a camping knook behind the Wal Mart. I sit, hidden behind a block wall, overlooking a highway, waiting for the cover of darkness to pitch my tent. Sherpa is drinking ejuice. My gear is stashed close to me. The small discipline of writing and processing my pictures each day grounds me, brings me back into techno civilization.

It is so hard not to have a place where I belong for so long. I must look like a suspicious character, one who should be watched for criminal activity.

Sometimes I feel more animal than human; finding hidden places to sleep, my reactions honed by months of traffic, my will to survive my dominant feeling, my mind quiet. I live in a never ending moment. My fatigue is a haze I must see through.

My lifestyle is so different from others. I have no way of explaining, even if anyone was to ask. It reminds me of Africa when people would ask how many cattle I owned. How do you share what your life is like when it is so different? My civility feels like a thin cracked shell, I wonder what shows through, and I cling to it for dear life. I feel closer to the woodchuck, alert by the roadside, timing his crossing, than the shoppers at Wal Mart.

I begin to understand the feelings of an outcast, a hobo, or a wrong culture or wrong color person.

I feel invincible. It is just a feeling, I know. But my willpower, determination, adaptability, flexibility, toughness, are well exercised. I feel that if it can be done, I can do it. My self confidence is strong. I’m ready.

I’m just a thousand miles and a few weeks from home! I’ve come over 8750 miles since April 10th.